The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Friday, December 3, 2010

News of the Day for Friday, December 3, 2010

Reported Security Incidents


An Iraqi soldier is killed by a sniper in Mansour.

In the same dispatch, Aswat al-Iraq reports that the intelligence chief of Thi-Qar escaped an assassination attempt near al-Muthanna airport in Baghdad, and that for unknown reasons people blew up a house under construction in Taji.


The U.S. military base at in Mashrouaa al-Musayab is struck by four rockets. This is the third consecutive day in which the base has been attacked.


Iraqi soldiers shoot (and apparently kill?) three men, one of them identified as of "Arab" nationality (presumably meaning not Iraqi), and arrest a Moroccan man, in the village of Mshirfa. They were apparently responding to a tip of some kind.

Unknown gunmen kill a civilian on Saturday.

Other News of the Day

Two buses carrying pilgrims crash in Hilla, killing at least 14 Iranians and 2 Iraqis. (The reported death toll from this incident varies, with many reporting 20 deaths.) Fifty people are reported injured.

Joel Wing doesn't expect a new Iraqi government until next year. And maybe he's optimistic. His description of the "power currency" used in the negotiations is quite droll.

Afghanistan Update

According to a cable included in the recent Wikileaks dump, Omar Daudzai, an aide to Hamid Karzai, says Iran has many Afghan political leaders on its payroll, and is also supporting religious scholars and training to militants inside Iran to fight with the Taliban. (This report from The Age treats all the allegations as factual; of course they are the report of one man to a U.S. diplomat, and he may have various reasons for saying this. I am inclined to believe much of it, but it seems a bit of a deep game for the Iranians to support the Taliban, who would use Ayatollah Khamenei's eyeballs for jewelry if they had the chance. --- C)

NYT's Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti report on Afghan graft and corruption from the leaked cables. Excerpt:

From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion, and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.

Describing the likely lineup of Afghanistan’s new Cabinet last January, the US Embassy noted the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, “appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist.’’

One Afghan official helpfully explained to diplomats the “four stages’’ at which his colleagues skimmed money from US development projects: “When contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.’’

In a seeming victory against corruption, Abdul Ahad Sahibi, the mayor of Kabul, received a four-year prison sentence last year for “massive embezzlement.’’ But a cable from the embassy told a very different story: Sahibi was a victim of “kangaroo court justice,’’ it said, in what appeared to be retribution for his attempt to halt a corrupt land-distribution scheme.

DoD identifies Cpl. Chad S. Wade of Bentonville, Ark., 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, as killed in action in Helmand Province on Wednesday.

It seems the U.S. has been skimming 15% off of donations from allies to develop Afghan forces. The Germans, at least, are not happy about it. Heh.

(Whisker is otherwise occupied today.)


Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that Wikileaks leaks all this information which may not hold much real value in the future yet when it comes to the tons of DU weapons used they fall short.

Why is this information not also available so Iraqis can approach the situation better?

dancewater said...

I rather doubt the diplomats or the embassy workers or even most of the US military know much about that.